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Bill Cunliffe: Bill Plays Bud

C. Michael Bailey By

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Bouncing With Bill. Chick Corea's recent tribute to Be Bop pioneer Bud Powell, Remembering Bud Powell (Concord/Stretch 9012-2) was a welcome tribute to the Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie of the piano. Bud Powell, while constantly being critically acknowledged, has had relatively few program recordings of his music by other musicians. Joining Corea in recognizing Powell is the East Coast-West Coast pianist Bill Cunliffe.

Standard and Nonstandard Fare. The Cunliffe and Corea recordings share several Powell originals. Both boast "Tempus Fugit," "Glass Enclosure," and "Dusk in Saudi." "Willow Grove" is also represented on both discs. Each pianist includes a personal composition. But, where Corea confines himself to all original compositions; Cunliffe chooses to explore both rarer Powell compositions and jazz standards closely associated with Powell. "Coming Up" and "Sure Thing" are rarely heard Powell vehicles that are brought out for closer inspection by Cunliffe. "Tempus Fugit" and "Hallucinations" along with "Un Poco Loco" are capably interpreted, often with the original Powell arrangements.

Ralph Moore and More. Tenor Saxophonist Ralph Moore proves he is empathetic with both Powell and Cunliffe. His muscular support and solos on "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" and "52nd Street Theme" make this already excellent disc a gem. Dave Carpenter provides a solid bottom upon which Cunliffe rocks and croons; while Joe La Barbera and Papo Rodriguez provide the rhythmic direction. The music herein is personally played by musicians of great substance. The modest Naxos price should make this fine recording a must have.

Naxos Jazz. This recording is among the third wave of Naxos Jazz releases, all of which have been review within these electric pages by this critic. I have found that all of these recordings have been of a very high quality. All, for the most part, have been recorded live direct to two track digital, preserving that special spontaneity that is jazz. Naxos Jazz has also provided a wide variety of styles and performances, all executed superbly. The other recent Naxos Jazz recordings include Donny McCaslin's Exile and Discovery (Naxos Jazz 86014-2), Clifford Adams' The Master Power (Naxos Jazz 86015-2), the Mike Nock Quintet's Ozboppin' (Naxos Jazz 86019-2), Flipside's Flipside (Naxos Jazz 86013-2), and Larry Karush's Art of the Improviser (Naxos Jazz 86011-2).

Track Listing: Melancholia, Un Poco Loco, Polka Dots and Moonbeams, Comin' Up, Hallucinations, Tempus Fugit, Sure thing, 52nd Street Theme, Borderick, Dusk at Saudi, Willowgrove, Glass Enclosure.

Personnel: Bill Cunliffe: Piano, Ralph Moore: Tenor Saxophone, Dave Carpenter: Acoustic Bass, Joe La Barbera: Drums, Papo Rodriguez: Percussion

Title: Bill Plays Bud | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Naxos


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